How to Say No

mad woman talking
'No' is the hardest answer to give when someone asks you for help. Here's why saying 'no' sets your priorities that fit God's purposes for your life. (Charisma archives)

Last Sunday I had a dilemma. We were a few minutes late for church, and we took a seat behind the children. In our church, pre-K through sixth-grade kids sit in the sanctuary during worship and then are released after worship to go to their children's program. We were barely seated when one of the sixth-grade girls jumped from her seat and rushed to John. "Would you be our teacher today? Our teacher isn't here."

It turns out there was a miscommunication between the children's director and the teacher, but that still meant someone was needed to help with the sixth-grade boys and girls. My husband was quick to respond and another woman was too. And I just sat there. I forced myself not to follow. Why?

I knew I could get up to help. I was physically and mentally able to come up with a lesson on the fly. But deep down I knew I couldn't. I have three children under the age of six. I homeschool. I write and blog. I lead our teen mom support group. I didn't have one ounce of "extra" in me to give.

It's hard saying no. Really hard. The only easy way to do it is by understanding what we were called to say yes to.

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In Balanced I encourage readers to narrow down their "life themes" to eight. Why eight? None of us are just about one thing ... and eight is enough to manage, believe me!

What Are Your Eight Life Themes?

My husband loves children's church. It's his passion, and he took a break from it when we adopted our two new kids, mostly because the adjustment was huge. If he were to create a list of his eight life themes, children's church would be on that list.

Because I love John and enjoy children, I've supported him in this. Before adopting our new kids, I spent most Sundays working by his side, but in this season of life I just can't do it. I need Sundays to get filled up so I can pour out the rest of the week.

Eight life themes are the things that come from the core of us. Yet during different seasons of life they may look different. These are my eight priorities in this season of life. These are the things I choose to say yes to:

  1. Being a child of God
  2. Being a wife
  3. Being a mom (Adoption is a huge part of this now, as is homeschooling)
  4. Mentoring teen moms
  5. Writing books
  6. Blogging/radio
  7. Keeping a home
  8. Staying healthy

It's a big list. It's enough. I also have a passion for leading mission trips, and a time may come when I start helping John in children's ministry again. But now is not that time. And I'm OK with that. I know Jesus has created me for a purpose in THIS day. In THIS season.

How about you? If you're like me there is a lot you CAN do. But what is God asking you to do in this season? What are your eight priorities? Tell us on Facebook.

Tricia Goyer has written more than 35 books, including both novels that delight and entertain readers and nonfiction titles that offer encouragement and hope. She has also published more than 500 articles in national publications such as Guideposts, Thriving Family, Proverbs 31 and HomeLife Magazine.

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